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Strange as it is, some dare suggest that what Paul really meant in Ephesians 5:25 was no more than,

“Husbands love your wives as …” also saith the law.

“Husbands love your wives as …” also your associate (neighbor).

In other words, some would reduce the love of Christ in the husband to: “Don’t hit her, don’t starve her, don’t freeze her.” Really? Is that all there is to it?

If so, why did Paul bring Christ into the equation at all? If that’s all there was to it, why didn’t Paul just say that? Why didn’t he just say what he meant?

We don’t need master-teachers skilled in the art of endless debate somehow to explain away the simple language of this wonderful phrase of Scripture, “Husbands, love your wives …” Now listen carefully to what Paul writes next:

even as Christ also loved the ecclesia, and gave Himself for it.

These words are so simple that a young child can grasp them and their significance. It takes amazing effort to explain away their clarity.

Surely we can learn much from Eden’s garden as well as the Mosaic law in relationship to marriage, but Paul unveils tremendous new ground for the husband/wife relationship: Christ!

While it is suggested that the true meaning of these words are somehow limited to a context of a few verses (:25-30), instead, as we have stated in an earlier section, the rich meaning of this phrase is actually to be understood in the broader context, taking us back to the beginning of the chapter.

The phrase “and gave Himself for it” looks backwards to :2. Paul plainly tells us exactly what that “giving” of Christ’s love for us was: (1) an offering, and (2) a sacrifice. The Concordant Literal Version translates the Greek word rendered “offering” in the KJV as “approach present.” An approach present was a gift offered to win another’s favor. It was a humble, sacrificial act to enable the giver to draw near to the recipient. An approach present was not chocolates and flowers. It represented a most significant sacrifice on the part of the giver. So, according to Paul’s own context, the husband’s love is to be an “approach present,” an “offering” of himself to his wife.

A whole new, never-before-known love was introduced by God through His Son, and it is that kind of love that the Father now has designed to be lived through husbands: a self-sacrificing love about which the law simply knew nothing. Christ represents the pinnacle of love and sacrifice, and Paul dares to hold up Christ’s love for the ecclesia as a model for the husband. What a glorious privilege and divine honor we husbands have been graciously granted.

Clyde L. Pilkington, Jr.
(Excerpted from his book, Wife Loving)

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February 2015
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